We apologise for presenting a longer blog than usual. But as this will be the last for several days, we hope our accustomed brevity will balance this particular prolixity for once!
People deny facts! People cannot reason! People are thick, stupid, xenophobic, bigoted, submissive to Fox News, the Daily Mail……. So run the agonised shrieks of many who call themselves progressives, educated, enlightened, or whatever vain label they have applied in response to the advances of populism in so many countries since 2008. And still can’t understand why it keeps winning.
Because the facts seemed to be on our side. So did reason, which is merely a way of organising facts into logical groups. It was the way were trained. In the tradition that dates back to Ancient Greece, nurtured in the schools of Medieval Europe and on via the Enlightenment to the present day. It works like this. Smallpox is a disease (check statement for veracity) Smallpox vaccine prevents the disease(check statement for veracity). Other vaccines may cure other diseases (check statement for veracity) Conclusion: vaccines are a good thing So why all the objections? Why the seeming inability to use language and logic in the way we do? One clue to the answer goes like this.
Many people use words, but these words are not what they really mean. We suspect many speakers are actually expressing deep emotional problems welling up from unhappy inner selves. Such a person may develop an obsession about the Gold Standard for example. Yet they cannot know about the Gold Standard, for how can any of us who have not studied economics? And this is true for any one of us from Professors of Quantum Physics to retired garage hands. Most racists, anti-vaxxers and climate deniers we have met have no education in biology, medicine or meteorology. Of course there may be exceptions, it’s just that we have not met them yet.
Many on the Left are quick to shut down opinions with which they disagree. “No platform for these words!” is the earnest cry. But what if the words you are hearing are not what the speaker is really feeling and is really concerned with?. Dare we suggest you are missing something? Many people carry a lifetime of frustrations, traumas, festering resentments, isolations and unrequited desires. It’s almost inevitable that these will be projected onto others-outgroups, perceived elites, those who are more prosperous or coping better. Its only human and natural to look for confirmation you are right. It takes a lifetime of training, and usually several degrees, to realise the intelligent response is to look for confirmation that you are wrong.
Yet this seething mass of emotion is raw data about society and politics. And our enemies were quicker to see the opportunity it presented -and used it. Time now for our side to learn as well. To listen. Only then will the real causes of our woes be addressed.
#populism #reason #logic #fact #alternative fact #racism #xenophobia #nostalgia #climate science denial #anti vaxxers